Legal Cannabis Use Can Still Get You Fired

Where cannabis consumption is legal, employers can no longer drug test for THC, right? Wrong.

Even in states where medical or recreational marijuana is legal, employers are free to perform drug tests on their employees. They also are free to insist on a drug-free work place.

Recent court decisions in Washington, Oregon and California, among other states, have upheld the employer’s right to deny employment to cannabis users and to discipline or terminate employees for marijuana use, even if the employee is using medical marijuana under state law. Employers may not only test for impairment on the job; they also may test for marijuana use, even if that use occurred weeks prior and has zero impact on job performance.

After Washington legalized cannabis, the City of Seattle notified its workers that it would maintain a drug-free workplace. The city justified this stance by noting that it receives federal funding and under federal law, marijuana is still illegal. The city does not want to put its federal funding at risk. Many employers, particularly companies and governmental bodies in the public safety, transportation and manufacturing industries, are doing the same.

Even residual amounts of marijuana in your system can be grounds for job termination if your employer takes a hardline stance with its drug policy. If you consume marijuana in your home in accordance with state law, you can still be fired if your employer maintains a drug-free workplace. Take a look at your employer’s HR policies. If you plan to keep your job, marijuana consumption may not be an option.